About Melanoma

What is Melanoma?

Melanoma is a cancer of pigment producing-cells called melanocytes. Most melanomas originate from the skin, though they can also arise from other parts of the body containing melanocytes, including the eyes, brain or spinal cord, or mucous membranes.

The ability to spread widely to other parts of the body is a unique characteristic of melanoma that the other more common skin cancers, basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, rarely possess. This characteristic makes melanoma the deadliest of all skin cancers.

How Common is Melanoma?

Melanoma of the skin is one of the most common cancers in the United States – among the top 10 causes of new cancer cases.

  • In the United States each year, more than 76,000 Americans are diagnosed with melanoma – an average of one person every eight minutes.
  • The incidence of melanoma has tripled in the last 30 years.
  • Melanoma is the most common cancer diagnosis in young adults 25-29 years old in the United States and the second most common cancer in young people 15-29.

What is the Survival Rate for Melanoma?

The survival rate for melanoma depends a lot on the stage of the cancer. While the overall five-year survival rate for people diagnosed with melanoma is high at 92 percent, the survival rate decreases dramatically once melanoma spreads to other parts of the body.

Very early stage (localized, Stage 0 or I) melanoma is greater than 90 percent curable with surgery, while patients with melanoma that has progressed to Stage 4 have a median life expectancy of less than one year. But there have been many new treatments approved for advanced melanoma in recent years, which have had great benefit to many patients with advanced melanoma.

Right now, prevention and early detection are the best strategy for improving outcomes in melanoma.

Advances in Melanoma Treatment

In 2011, the FDA approved new melanoma treatments for the first time in more than a decade. Since then, the FDA has approved a total of eleven treatments for melanoma, underscoring the remarkable progress that has been made in a very short time period.

Key among these treatments are molecularly targeted drugs for patients whose melanoma has specific mutations. Immunotherapy – an approach that energizes a patient’s immune system to combat melanoma – has emerged as powerful new tools in the melanoma treatment arsenal.

The Melanoma Research Alliance (MRA) is the largest private fundraiser of melanoma research. They commit 100% of their donations to innovative research in an effort to better prevent and diagnose this disease and advance effective cures for all patients. The organization has provided nearly $68 million in research grants all around the world.
The Polka Dot Mama Melanoma Foundation proudly partners with the MRA to co-fund research and raise awareness of melanoma globally. The information on this page is courtesy of their resources.


100% of donations to MRA support melanoma research.


The PDMMF created these infographics to help increase awareness about melanoma. Feel free to click on these infographics and share them to help us raise awareness.

Information courtesy of the Melanoma Research Alliance. The MRA name and logo are used with its permission which in no way constitutes an endorsement, express or implied, of any company or product.

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